The 6 Best Bass Guitars for Slap (2022)

Slapping and popping a bassline is one of the most satisfying playing styles that almost every bass player dreams of.

It sounds genuinely fantastic when done right, but it can be pretty challenging to do so. Although you can slap on any bass guitar with the proper technique, some bass guitars are better suited for the style.

My top pick, if you want an amazing bass guitar for slapping, is the Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass, as it is well-suited for the slap tone with good pickups and a smooth, fast-action neck for comfortable playing.

My pick for tighter budgets is again from the same brand, the Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass, which has fantastic value for this price range.

The 6 Best Bass Guitars for Slap (2022)

1. Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz Bass
Top Pick - Top-Tier Bass Both For Slapping And Fingerpicking
2. Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass
Affordable Option - Most Affordable Bass For Slap-Style Playing
3. Music Man Sterling StingRay
Quality Humbucker Bass - Great Affordable Bass Designed For Slapping
4. Warwick Rockbass Corvette 5
Premium Quality 5 String Bass For Slap and Heavier Playing Styles
5. Ibanez Standard SR400EQM Bass
Lightweight and Comfortable Bass For Slapping
6. Fender Marcus Miller
Great All-round Jazz Signature Bass

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Squier Classic Vibe '60s Jazz Bass

Top Pick
Top-Tier Bass Both For Slapping And Fingerpicking.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass is the Chinese remake of the authentic 60’s Fender Jazz Bass. The Jazz Bass is one of the most desired bass guitars around with its warm and articulate tone as well as its great playability. And the Squier version does not fall short.

Pros

  • Comfortable neck and great playability
  • Dual single-coil Fender Alnico Pickups
  • Classic offset-waist body
  • Great value for the price

Cons

  • Not much!

The bass features a solid poplar classic offset-waist body, smooth fast-action bolt-on maple neck, with a 34” scale Indian laurel fingerboard. It is equipped with two great vintage Fender-designed Alnico II single-coil pickups with their individual volume controls.

The pickups provide an expressive and crisp tone which is great for slapping, and the C-shaped neck is highly comfortable to use the technique properly without succumbing to fatigue. The individual tone controls are also there to give you control over the dynamic balance to adjust the frequency band for your slapping.

Pickups SS, Fender Vintage Alnico Single Coil
Strings0.45 – 0.105 Medium Gauge Strings
Frets 20, Medium Jumbo
Neck & Scale Maple, 34″ (864 mm)
Low-Action SettingLow Action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

In short, Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass is a great choice for slap and pop style of playing. It does not matter the genre you play, and this guitar will get the job done for a surprisingly low price.

2. Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass

Budget Pick
Affordable Bass For Slap-Style Playing.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass is one of the most affordable bass guitars that Fender offers. It features a great value for price ratio with dual Ceramic Jazz Single-coil pickups that deliver a satisfying tone with enough brightness and crispiness for slaps, along with the comfortable C-shaped maple neck with laurel fingerboard.

Pros

  • Comfortable neck and great playability
  • Low-action
  • Great value for the price

Cons

  • Electronics

The guitar comes with a low-action setting and a professional setup to get you started immediately. It is equipped with round wound medium gauge nickel-plated steel (0.045 – 0.105) strings suitable for popping. 

The electronics on the guitar feel a bit cheap and do not provide you with enough dynamic versatility. The pickups are good for the price, but for a better sound, you may think of upgrading them to Fender Alnico pickups for a better slap tone.

Pickups SS, Ceramic Jazz Single-coil
Strings Nickel Plated Steel, 0.45 – 0.105
Frets 20, Narrow Tall
Neck & Scale Maple, 34″ (864 mm)
Low-Action SettingLow Action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

Overall, Squier Affinity Series Jazz Bass is a bass that is hard to beat in its price range. If you are a beginner and looking for an affordable guitar to learn and master slapping-style playing, this bass is the way to go.

3. Music Man Sterling StingRay

A Quality Humbucker Bass
Great Affordable Bass Designed For Slapping.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

When it comes to slap-style playing, one of the first basses that come to mind is Music Man Sterling StingRay. It is the more affordable version of the original Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray, used by great slappers like Flea and Louis Johnson.

Pros

  • Active humbucker pickups
  • The hard maple neck is good for slapping
  • Good quality construction specially designed for slapping
  • Great tones and looks

Cons

  • Stock strings are not great

Designed for the slap-style playing, the bass guitar features a 6-bolt neck for more stability, a hard maple neck for more comfortable slapping, an active humbucker pickup that provides a thick and funky tone, a 3+1 tuning key arrangement for better tuning stability, and a custom-designed powered preamp to take control over your tone.

Pickups H, 1 Ceramic Humbucker
Strings Nickel Plated Steel, 0.45 – 0.105
Frets 21, Medium
Neck & Scale Hard Maple & 34″ (864 mm)
Low-Action SettingLow Action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

The only concern is the strings that the guitar is equipped with, but you can change them with better ones immediately after purchasing. Besides that, Music Man Sterling StingRay has everything to get you going for a slapping journey for a truly affordable price.

4. Warwick Rockbass Corvette 5

5 String Bass
Premium Quality 5 String Bass For Slap and Heavier Playing Styles.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Warwick Rockbass Corvette 5 is a great 5-string bass suitable for different genres and playing styles. It features a swamp ash body, 3-piece maple neck, Rosewood fretboard, and two passive MEC MM pickups, which provide high playing comfort along with versatile tones whether you play a funky slap solo or rock and modern progressive styles. 

Plus, The multi-scale design with different scale lengths on different strings improves the intonation while providing a highly comfortable playing experience. The extra B string also sounds quite clear compared to other 5-string basses in the price range.

Pros

  • High-level build quality
  • Great and versatile tone palette
  • Multi-scale instrument
  • Very clear sounding low-B string

Cons

  • Narrow spacing between strings
  • No inlays on the fretboard

Tapping and popping are a bit more challenging on 5-string basses as the strings are located closer to each other. So, you will have to be more accurate with your right-hand movements. Another difficulty may be navigating through the fretboard without inlay dots. But, if you are not an absolute beginner, you will get used to it pretty quickly.

Pickups 2 MEC Dynamic Correction Jazz pickups 
Strings Warwick RED Strings 0.045″ – 0.135″
Frets 24 extra high jumbo nickel silver frets
Scale Maple with Ekanga veneer stripes, 34”(864 mm) to 35.5” scale
Low-Action SettingVery Low Action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

Overall, Warwick Rockbass Corvette 5 is a great bass if you are looking for a versatile 5-string bass for playing slaps, pops, taps, as well as heavier and more modern tones. 

5. Ibanez Standard SR400EQM Bass

Comfortable and Versatile Bass
Lightweight and Comfortable Bass For Slapping.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

The high-end SR series basses of Ibanez are some of the top-notch products in the bass guitar world. But, if you want similar quality without breaking the bank, Ibanez offers Ibanez Standard SR400EQM Bass, which features a 5-piece maple neck with rosewood fretboard, 2 PowerSpan humbucker pickups, a thin, and lightweight design, and active electronics with a 3-band EQ to shape your tone.

Pros

  • 5-piece maple neck
  • 2 Great humbucker pickups
  • Thin and lightweight
  • Active electronic with 3-band EQ

Cons

  • The thin neck might not be for everyone

The instrument’s thin 5-piece maple neck makes the slaps and pop highly comfortable, fast, and great-sounding, while the humbuckers provide the warm and versatile tone that you can shape with the active electronic controls as you like. Although the thin neck makes the guitar lightweight and fast to play up and down, some people might prefer chunkier necks.

Pickups 2 PowerSpan Dual Coil pickups
Strings D’Addario EXL165 0.045 – 0.105
Frets 24, Medium 
Scale 34″ (864 mm)
Low-Action SettingLow Action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

In short, if you want an intermediate-level, versatile, comfortable bass for slaps and pops, Ibanez SR440EQM has the premium quality of SR basses for an affordable price which you can choose without hesitation.

6. Fender Marcus Miller

Quality Jazz Bass
Great All-Around Signature Bass Inspired By The Legendary Slap-Bass Player.
View Price at Amazon

When talking about the slapping technique, one of the first musicians to mention is undoubtedly Marcus Miller. Fender has a signature model based on his iconic 1975 Jazz Bass, called Fender Marcus Miller Jazz Bass, a top-quality bass guitar with a violin ash body and a one-piece maple neck, two vintage-style Jazz Bass single-coil pickups, and active/passive electronic controls. It is a great all-around bass but especially shines with jazzy, funky slap-pop-style playing.

Pros

  • Highly precise and smooth pickups
  • Violin ash and maple construction great for slaps
  • Two-band active/passive EQ

Cons

The active preamp of the guitar allows you to maximize control over your tone, with which you can create a deep, resonant sound that is ideal for slapping and popping in the style of Marcus Miller. You can also use the electronics in passive mode for more mid-range focused playing for different genres.

Pickups SS /  vintage-style Jazz Bass single-coil pickups
Strings 0.45 – 0.105 Medium Gauge Strings
Frets 20, Medium Jumbo Frets
Scale 34 ” (864 mm)
Low-Action SettingVery low action, adjustment with bridge saddles or with truss rod on the head

The only things I can say against Fender Marcus Miller are that it is a hard guitar to find, and the lack of a mid-range frequency equalizer is taking away a bit of versatility. But besides these, it is a great bass guitar, especially for slapping and popping for experienced players.

What is the slap bass technique?

The slap technique is just what the name suggests. With this technique, bassists slap the strings instead of picking or plucking them to get a distinct percussive sound. 

The slap technique is commonly done with the thumb’s knuckle, where it is hard and bony by quickly striking the string against the fretboard.

The pop technique is similar; however, it is done by plucking and releasing the strings so hard that the string snaps back to the guitar and creates a smacking sound.

Is slapping bass difficult to do?

Slapping is considered an intermediate-level technique. It is not the best idea to try slapping before playing the bass decently. So, it would be best if you gave yourself a bit of time for practice to master fundamental bass guitar techniques before attempting to slap your way down the fretboard.

If you are already a decent player, slapping shouldn’t be very hard to learn. With a bit of practice and going step by step, learning the technique slowly and thoroughly, you can start slapping and popping some of the easy songs, like the ones of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Can you slap on any bass guitar?

Although you can slap on any bass guitar, even on some acoustic guitars, there are some basses on which you can slap easier, and some make it extremely difficult such as semi-acoustic basses. Many different aspects affect the slapping comfort, such as the number of strings, the spacing between the strings, neck shape, and material, length of the scale, etc.

Luckily, there are many basses designed explicitly for the slap and pop techniques, some of which were explained in this article. You should look for bass guitars similar to the jazz bass of Marcus Miller or Stingray bass of Flea. 

The most important factors here are the long scale length to give you enough space for your slapping hand, enough space between the strings to pluck them easier for the popping technique, lighter strings for better-sounding and easier slaps. Finally, the ability to adjust the string action to a low degree is crucial, so you do not have to slap with high power.

How to you get a better slap sound on bass?

Before discussing the optimal conditions for a great slap bass tone, I must say the most significant factor here is the player’s technique. You may have the highest quality gear perfectly ideal for the slap bass tone, but with poor technique, you can not get the slap sound you desire.

That aside, the tone quality of pops and slaps heavily depends on many factors such as the pickups, fretboard material, string type and gauge, and action setup. Also, the amp and the amp settings play a crucial role too.

A good slap tone should be crisp, round, and aggressive, with the higher and lower end frequencies boosted and the mids scooped. To get to this tone, you will need to check several factors.

The most suitable pickups for slapping are active pickups as they provide an aggressive, spanky, and bright tone which is perfect for slapping. However, they are prone to feedback, so you must be careful with them. The passive pickups sound warmer; however, they do not feature the bright highs active pickups have. But with the help of an equalizer, you can turn things around.

The harder the fretboard is, the better the slapping tone will be. Hard maple, rosewood are good choices to get a brighter slap tone.

Your string gauge choice should be lighter so you can slap using less force. Plus, the type of strings also affects the tone. Here, the optimal choice is roundwound stainless steel strings instead of flatwound nickel strings, as the first choice has a brighter and spanker sound. Furthermore, you should change your strings frequently to catch a better slap tone.

Finally, the action setup is another important factor. You should set your action as low as possible, so it gets easier to slap and pop. The action here means the distance between the strings and the fretboard. So, the shorter the distance, the easier to smack the strings to the fretboard, and the better sounds you get.

Does slapping damage your bass guitar?

As with many cases in different instruments and techniques, if you have the proper technique, there is no risk for your instrument. However, if you are doing the slaps and pops wrong and beating your bass too hard while you slap, then there might be a risk.

This is one of the reasons you should learn and master the technique slowly and patiently, so you do not waste your instrument. You might damage your frets and the finish of your instruments if you do it too hard. 

Plus, a lousy slap technique not only damages the instrument but also damages the ears of the listeners.

Verdict

Slapping and popping are some of the coolest and most fun techniques when playing the bass. Almost every bassist dreams of playing and sounding like the legends Marcus Miller, Flea, and Larry Graham, slapping and popping the hell out of their basses with crisp and aggressive funky tones.

For this playing style, having a slap-bass style instrument will help immensely. My top slap-bass pick is Squier Classic Vibe ’60s Jazz Bass, as it is affordable and specially designed for this slap-style playing.

If you want an instrument even more affordable, you can also go with another Squier series bass called the Affinity Series Jazz Bass to learn and master the slap style playing.

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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